Annie Hart, the founder of the rescue group, the Bill Foundation, probably never imagined that her job would entail a dramatic car chase. It’s not something that most rescue workers find themselves doing. But for Hart, doing whatever she can to save dogs is her passion and if that involves a car chase, then so be it.
So, when Hart received a call from Samantha Haas, the founder of WagAware, regarding some puppies that were being stuffed into a Tupperware container by a homeless, and likely unstable, man, she knew she had to do what she could to save these puppies. Haas had tried to convince the man to give her the puppies but, instead of listening, he began to close the lid to the Tupperware container, not leaving enough air for the puppies. Haas knew that the puppies would not last long without sufficient air, so when she saw the man board a bus, she felt desperate to save their lives but also helpless. What could she do when he was on a moving bus?
It was Hart who came up with the plan that seems right out of a movie. She told Haas to immediately get in her car and drive very slowly in front of the bus, to impede its progress. Amazingly, this worked and Hart and her husband caught up with the bus just as it was coming to a stop to allow passengers to disembark.
Then the most dramatic part of the rescue entailed. Hart describes it in a post written for Dogster.com:
“James hits the gas and slides up behind the bus. I hop out and dash for its open door. It closes. Like a lunatic, I am jumping up and down, calling for the driver to open the doors. Like a completely sane person, he drives away. I jump back in the car and we take off after it…
Another stop comes up and the bus rolls over, Sam stops in front of it and James stops on the side to sandwich it in. I run up to the doors and again they close in my face and I am shouting at the driver to please open the door. He looks at me with hesitation when I yell, ‘A homeless man has puppies on your bus! They are in a plastic container with the lid and they could run out of air!’ To his credit, he opens the doors. “
When Hart boarded the bus, she wasn’t sure what she would find. She searched frantically for a man with four puppies in a Tupperware container and failed to see him at first. Several passengers complained that she was in the way. Before she could give up hope, Hart spotted a homeless man and immediately saw a big Tupperware container jiggling with the puppies trying to get out.
Hart brilliantly struck up a conversation with the guy, bringing up what she does for a living in the course of the conversation. She suggested they get off the bus and talk about what she could do to help his puppies. He agreed and Hart helped him off.
In the meanwhile, Hart’s husband, James, and Pit Bull, Arnold, were following and monitoring everything from a distance in case Hart needed intervention. After much deliberation and giving all the cash in her pocket, the man agreed to give three of the four puppies but said the fourth was already promised to someone. Though Hart did not plan on leaving without having all four in her possession, she agreed in order to appease him.
James hopped out and they rescued the three puppies quickly with the plan of bringing more cash and returning for the fourth. They drove off with the three before the man could change his mind about them too.
Thankfully, when they returned, the man had not gone far and James approached with a bit more cash in the hopes that the man would be swayed by both the money and James 6-foot-6 stature. James convinced the man that with the money he would give him, he could rescue another dog from the shelter and then two dogs would be saved rather than just one! Apparently, this worked and the man relented.
That last puppy was clearly too small and did not seem to be moving much. Thankfully, though, all four puppies are now doing well, including the smallest that was rescued last, Luke. Each puppy is named for an X-Men character and has the last name Xavier, from Xavier’s School for the Gifted in X-Men.
Hart credits the rescue’s success to the many people who were all willing to go through with the crazy car/bus chase idea-Haas for placing the initial call and slowing down the bus, Hart’s husband, James, for having her back the entire time and even the bus driver for finally allowing her to board when he could have just thought she was a lunatic.
Hart uses this story to illustrate the effect that each and every person can have if they are willing to actually do something:
“This should serve as an example to all those out there who say the pet overpopulation and shelter system is broken and it can’t be fixed. This problem will never end, they say, so why bother with funding and aid?
If we do nothing, that is all true. IF we do nothing. But if we do everything we can, who can say what possibilities lie hidden in the fabric of fate? There was a time when the world was flat, when space was unreachable and when women were not allowed to vote.
One day, perhaps we will include shelter death and pet overpopulation among the things that WERE, and enduring hope among the things that ARE…” (Quote from Hart’s Dogster post).
The Bill Foundation is a Los Angeles based 501(c)3 non-profit animal rescue organization. They rescue as many dogs as possible to alleviate the suffering of those abandoned in shelters or on the street. They strive to also provide the highest standard of veterinary care and training until the dogs are adopted into loving, stable homes.